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Rauhofer goal helps Real Monarchs upset defending champs for 1st win

Rauhofer goal helps Real Monarchs upset defending champs for 1st win

(Rob Gray/Real Monarchs)

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SANDY — Five matches into the Real Monarchs’ inaugural season, the club had come close but was yet to find a way to win.

In match No. 6, it finally happened — and in a big way.

Max Rauhofer scored the lone goal of the match, and the Monarchs picked up their first win in club history with a 1-0 shocker over the defending USL champion Sacramento Republic on Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“It’s a great feeling,” Rauhofer said through an interpreter after the match. “The team has been fighting every single day, and it’s great to be able to come out with the win. The guys have fought every single game, and it’s great to get out from the bottom of the league table.”

Rauhofer’s goal came in the 68th minute, after Real Salt Lake homegrown Fito Ovalle, one of four Utah natives to start the match, lofted a shot from distance that found the back of the Uruguayan striker’s boot and flicked past Sacramento goalkeeper Patrick McLain.

“It was one of those plays where I was at the right place at the right time,” Rauhofer said. “Fito took a really good shot, and I just wanted to back-heel the ball into the net. It’s exactly what I did.”

The Monarchs (1-4-2) came out strong, outshooting the defending champs 6-1 in the opening 45 minutes and forcing McLain to make the only two saves of the first half to keep the match level at 0-0.

This is our first, and it's something special. It's early in the season, and I think we are finally coming together as a team. I think we're building, and there are good things to come.

–Real Monarchs midfielder Fito Ovalle

But the local side continued to bring pressure through the second half, capping the run with Rauhofer’s goal. The Uruguayan-Italian forward ratched a match-high seven shots, including two on frame, to lead the Monarchs to the victory.

“The guys have been great,” Monarchs coach Freddy Juarez said. “They’re training well, they are eager to get back to training, and they wanted this game. We put a game plan together and followed it. Credit to them; they battled. They brought the energy, and got a result.”

Lalo Fernandez, the third-string goalkeeper on loan from Real Salt Lake, made three saves — all in the second half — to preserve the shutout.

The win comes only 10 days after the Monarchs were hammered at Colorado Springs, 5-2, and after dropping a stoppage-time decision 1-0 to L.A. Galaxy II last Saturday.

But the season’s slow start made winning all the more gratifying, said Ovalle, who grew up in Layton.

“This is our first, and it’s something special,” Ovalle said. “It’s early in the season, and I think we are finally coming together as a team. I think we’re building, and there are good things to come.”

Emery Welshman put up two shots in his debut with the Monarchs, after the former Toronto FC striker was injured in a pair of international friendlies with Guyana at the start of the season. Usual-captain Lucas Baldin came off the bench, replacing Ricardo Velazco, who wore the armband for the match, and RSL loanee John Stertzer also made a substitute appearance.

Stertzer has been suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for RSL’s home match Friday against San Jose after a hard tackle against the Revolution’s Juan Agudelo during last weekend’s 4-0 loss at New England.

But the first team’s loss was the Monarchs’ gain, as Stertzer helped lock down the midfield in the final 20 minutes and helped limit Republic FC to five shots in the second half. Coco Navarro and Darian Copeland also made substitute appearances for Real Monarchs.

“Today we didn’t talk about winning the match,” Juarez said. “We talked about playing for our passion, following a game plan, and trusting ourselves. If you start talking about wins, mentally you have lapses. Today, you could see the energy of the guys. I think in the last three games we had, there was urgency. They are trying a lot.

“It’s just another step; this also isn’t the last one. It’s a long season, and we’ll have our ups and down. But if we continue to train where we are, we are going to have more of these (wins).”


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Sean Walker


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